Slowing Down Your Fashion Sense: How To Ditch Your Reliance On Fast Fashion
When the lockdown was eased last month and retailers reopened their doors for the first time since March, we saw some worrying trends emerge on the highstreet. One of which was the enormous and lengthy queues for discount retailer Primark. While it’s understandable that many consumers might need access to affordable clothing, these “enormous” queues highlight a disturbing truth about our shopping habits. We’ve become addicted to fast fashion. To be fair, Primark has cleaned up its act considerably after the collapse of one of its factories in Bangladesh highlighted the poor and unsafe conditions that were the lived reality for many garment workers. Nonetheless, Primark is emblematic of a problem shared by many high street retailers, which are perpetuating a cycle of fast fashion. And while some big brands like H&M have announced a number of ethical and environmental changes, many consumers have criticised them as “greenwashing”.
As consumers, we need to vote with our wallets against the kind of worker and farmer exploitation and environmental damage that fast fashion represents. But for many of us in our 30s and 40s, the highstreet is virtually all we’ve known when it comes to building a fashion vocabulary and looking good. Here are some ways in which you can break the cycle, ditch your reliance on fast fashion and “slow down” your fashion sense.
Wear more, shop less
One of the most effective things we can do to break the cycle of fast fashion is to go shopping less. Let’s face it, there’s always something better you can do with your saturday afternoon. Millions of us feel the need to cram ourselves into shopping centres for some “retail therapy” when the weekend rolls around. But how much value do we really get from our purchases? How much time passes before your prized possessions become wardrobe clutter?
If 50% of Brits extended the wardrobe life of their clothes by just 9 months, we could save the planet 8% in carbon emissions, 10% in water use, and 4% of waste per metric ton of clothing, according to a report by WRAP. That’d be pretty great, wouldn’t it?
Oh, and remember never ever to throw old clothes into landfill waste when you can donate to charity or upcycle them.
Think of combinations rather than volume
Fewer clothes of better quality doesn’t necessarily mean that you should have a spartan wardrobe. It’s simply a matter of buying clothes that you know can make great combinations of looks. Take a look at French zero-waste advocate Bea Johnson if you need inspiration. Johnson, author of the book Zero Waste Home, can make a massive 50 outfits from her 15-piece wardrobe. Just 8 tops, 5 bottoms and 2 dresses. Try to think more like her. You don’t need a voluminous wardrobe to pull off a vast array of looks. Just a carefully considered one. Speaking of which…
Invest in clothes that you know will last you for years
Wearing more and shopping less is all well and good. But when your clothes quickly fall prone to popped seams, bobbling, wear and tear, replacing them is the only way to look like an actual respectable human being.
Still, replacing them needn’t mean replacing them with like-for-like. The great thing about shopping less is that you can afford to save up and buy clothes of real quality. Clothes that don’t just look great but will last for years. Try and think of evergreen clothes that will look great no matter what the whims of fashion dictate.
A good pair of Converse trainers will last you a good 3-5 years when properly looked after. A good pair of high-quality jeans can last for decades. Fast fashion has warped our sense of how long our clothes are supposed to last. But of there’s one thing we shouldn’t be doing, it’s throwing out the contents of our wardrobes every year.
Finally, one of the best ways in which you can shop ethically (while also saving a lot of money) is buying pre-loved. In an era where high fashion and thrift have collided, shopping at charity shops and boutique pre-loved fashion retailers has become much more normalised. It’s also perfect for those who want to add a retro twist to their fashion sense. And don’t forget that eBay, Gumtree and the like are also a great source of high-quality pre-loved clothes that will keep you looking great (and feeling great) for years to come.
You deserve to look good. But looking good shouldn’t come with a whopping monthly price-tag or a nagging sense of guilt!